Huge numbers face a lonely Xmas

File photo.File photo.
File photo.
Britain is locked in a growing grip of social isolation with shocking new figures revealing 90,000 children will spend Christmas homeless this year and almost half a million older people face spending the festive season alone.

Calls were made for more to be done to help the vulnerable in society last night as two new reports highlighted the “severe emotional distress” suffered by many children living in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs and hostels, including reports from parents of children being depressed, self-harming and having panic attacks. While a second highlighted how older people are “easily forgotten” during the festive period.

Barry Sheerman, Huddersfield MP, said last night local authorities had faced huge cuts in budgets from the Government and social care was being hit.

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“We are finding increasingly families and individuals isolated from what they can depend on in terms of social care.

“What we are finding at the moment is that there’s this yawning gap where people are not just facing a miserable Christmas but a miserable next year.”

The latest figures from debt charity StepChange show during the first six months of this year the average person in touch with the organisation in the region owed £11,229 on credit cards, loans and other unsecured debts.

Earlier this year the Yorkshire Post launched its Loneliness campaign to highlight the issue which can have a dramatic impact on people’s health.

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A spokesperson for The Salvation Army said: “The Salvation Army understands the drivers and consequences of social exclusion and of the complex needs of homeless people. Last Christmas we found that 13 per cent of people in Yorkshire and Humber felt lonely at Christmas; higher than the national average (11%).”

Homeless charity Shelter says some 90,000 children will wake up homeless this Christmas in Britain, and has launched an appeal asking the public to help it tackle a situation that it described as a “scandal.” It said some children were forced to eat their meals off the floor because living space was so tight while others were placed in accommodation a long way from their school.

Shelter made its estimates for the number of children likely to be without a permanent home this Christmas using separate sets of Government figures covering England, Scotland and Wales. In Yorkshire it believes the figure will be 554 children.

Greg Mulholland, Leeds North West MP said: “Christmas should be a lovely and very jovial time of the year, but sadly, Shelter’s figures show that many families will be having the exact opposite experience.”

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Almost half a million older people face spending Christmas alone, according to charity Royal Voluntary Service which has teamed up with Community Christmas, with the aim that no older person should have to spend Christmas alone.

David McCullough, Royal Voluntary Service chief executive, said: “We know isolation is a huge issue and this can be acutely felt if you are alone on Christmas Day, missing being with family and friends. There’s no better time to reach out and change someone’s life.”